Visual Management

Visual management is the concept of making a workplace more effective by making the current condition of a workplace obvious at a glance.

But visual management doesn’t stop there. For it to be effective, there must also be a predetermined course of action when a specific (whether normal or abnormal) condition is identified.

Visual management might be used for identifying items in a repair facility that are about to ship late (abnormal condition), or to manage products moving down a mixed model assembly line (specific normal condition).

Visual Management Requirements

  • Visual management needs standardization. Without a normal condition, there can be no abnormal.
  • Visual management must be obvious. It should be easy to tell (with only a little training) what is going on in an area.
  • Visual management should be used. It does no good to put a system in place if it is ignored.
  • Visual management responses should be standardized. The response to a condition should be planned in advance, especially for abnormal ones. When things are going wrong is not the time to start figuring out what to do. If you know enough about a problem to create a visual control, finish up by prescribing a remedy.

A common example of visual management is the flashing lights on top of an emergency vehicle. The signal (the lights) is well known to people who have basic driver’s training. It can be easily seen. The response—pulling over—is standard, and it is followed because it is enforced. When the condition returns to normal (emergency vehicle is gone), drivers are free to return to their normal methods of operation.

Visual management uses several tools to make things obvious. Some common ones are:

  • 5S
  • Color coding
  • Floor tape
  • Signs and labels
  • Kanban
  • Production boards

 

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